Students at the pre-registration reception in March.
How I got a job with an investment bank
Senior year I decided that as much as I loved English, I wanted to try the business world for a while before deciding where my true passion lay. I had no idea where to start, so I started where most students do: at the Career Services web site. As I scanned through the list of potential jobs it became painfully obvious that very few businesses wanted to hire any major except a business-related one. I stumbled upon a few companies that were willing to hire any major, and I did receive a few job offers to do consulting and marketing. (In one case, with a company that seemed to be interested in engineers, what I did to start the process was take the contact’s name, call him, and ask who I needed to talk to in order to get into marketing.)
JP Morgan Chase
One of the companies that was interested in hiring any major was J. P. Morgan, now JPMorgan Chase. I knew J. P. Morgan was a successful investment bank, but I knew nothing beyond that fact. The job asked for an Internal Consultant, and described the program as an 18-24 month program consisting of a series of rotations that dealt mainly with project work throughout the different areas of the bank. I figured that I might as well apply; I really had nothing to lose.
The following month I went to an evening information session with my roommate who was a finance major. At the information session I was totally lost, as I everyone in the room nodding along with the introductory video, I felt a growing sense of dread and displacement. After the information session I decided that there was no way that I was going to the interview, all I could possibly do was embarrass myself.
A surprising turn of events
As everyone mingled around the room with the representatives from J. P. Morgan, I decided to let my guard down and become my normally outgoing self. I figured that no one from J. P. Morgan was ever going to see me again. Upon walking out of the room, the former head of the Internal Consulting Program approached me and asked me if I was going to come to the interview tomorrow morning. Obviously caught off guard, I could not think of a brilliant excuse and ended up mumbling “yes, of course.” He said, “We loved your energy, it was obvious from the moment you walked into the room.” Shocked, I said thank you and left with my equally bewildered roommate.
The initial interview was slightly scary, as I had to sell the interviewer on why a business should hire an English Major. Apparently I did a good job, because I made it to the second round interview with a Vice President. He asked me conceptually how to solve a problem, whether or not I believed all problems could be solved, and why I should be the first non-business major that they hired. I told him of my concern about my lack of business knowledge and he told me that although they had never hired an English major before, my credentials and desire to excel were more important. A person can be taught skills, but not personality and tenacity.
I beat out all but three other people, who were also hired. I was offered a job on the spot, and I have been working at JPMorganChase for a little over a year now.
How I chose this particular job
I asked every interviewer what made the company that he or she worked for the employer of choice. I thought J. P. Morgan gave the best answer. They not only talked to me about the job potential, they also talked to me about what being a J. P. Morgan employee meant. It is extremely important to find out what the core values of a business are, as you will become “part of the company you keep.”
It was important to me to ask about work/life balance as I value my free time with my friends and family. I also found it helpful to find people within the company that were not affiliated with recruiting efforts because they were more likely to give you a straight answer. In order to meet these people, ask your friends or family if they know anyone who works at the company, or when you are on an office visit, take down the names of the people you meet and call the main number and ask to be connected to that person. Most importantly—do not take a job based solely on money.
Tips for finding a job
Know yourself. Know what you want to do and what you do not want to do, because your job encompasses 80% of your life. Know what is important to you both in your job, and in your life. If you want to work for a company that stresses diversity, benefits for working mothers, etc., read Business Week and Fortune, because they both do issues on important work topics.
Know your limitations. If you do not know technology, but also do not want to know it, admit that to yourself and look at jobs that are much more people-oriented.
On your resume, show that you have business skills by using key phrases such as team work, project management, relationship management, networking when describing your extracurricular activities or work experience (both of these are vital to have).
Get an internship that is business-related. If this is hard, get an internship that is non-business related and maneuver your way into a business project within the company.
If you see a job you want, do not stop calling or emailing. When I went to the job fair last year, the interviewer at TV Guide remembered my name because I had called her half a dozen times. If you see a company you want, call Human Resources and find out the name of the interviewer. Send the interviewer your resume and then…
Follow up. Send the interviewer an email a few weeks later, politely inquiring about your resume. Make sure to say thank you.
Tips on interviewing
Prepare. You absolutely must know about the company and job that you are pursuing. You need to ask intelligent questions that show that you did your homework and have taken an active interest in the company.
Attend the information session if there is one. This is valuable to make a first impression, and you could miss an important announcement for what to wear/bring the next morning for the interview if you do not attend. Also, they take attendance...
Dress appropriately. I cannot stress this enough. If the interviewer says it is business causal, come in business casual. If it says wear a suit, wear a suit. Make sure you are neat: no crazy nail polish, loud makeup, wrinkled clothes, etc. Trust me, you have no idea everything you are being evaluated on.
Sell yourself. You are in a different resume pool from many applicants because of your English major—use that to your advantage. The former CEO of Bausch and Lomb is one of my best friends’ parents—and a history major—and always told me that he liked to hire liberal arts majors because they know how to think. Tell the interviewer about your strengths in the areas of communication—both written and verbal—your analytical skills from close reading, your presentation skills, etc. Explain that you are want to learn the technical and business knowledge—and ask if there is anything that you can do prior to getting the job to learn about either of those—and do what they say.
Maintain eye contact and do not play with your hair, bite your nails, or squirm around. The interviewers are looking at how you handle yourself when surrounded by superiors.
What to expect at a business job
You are going to be lost initially. No matter what, you cannot make up for 4 years of business training that business majors learned in college. So...
Get up to speed ASAP. Ask your co-workers or fellow students how to do the basics—Excel, Powerpoint. Read a finance book, read the Wall Street Journal. Ask a lot of questions.
Your brain will work differently than most everyone else’s. You are used to thinking conceptually, and you know how to draw conclusions and foreshadow—realize that this is your strength and few people have it. Be patient with them, but also start putting things on paper. Businesses are results-oriented. If the idea is in your head and not on paper, it does not really exist in your boss’ eyes.